F.east at Ilminster has been one of my regular lunch haunts for some time, and was previously based in a converted cottage just off the centre of town.  However, recently the owner Claire and her team upped sticks and moved to a converted mill building on the edge of Ilminster and what a great move that has proved to be.  The extra space has really allowed F.east to spread its wings and the eclectic look and industrial styling suits it down to the ground.  Even though the space is bigger, I was pleased to see that there is now a comfy sofa corner – perfect for coffee and cake!

feast6 - F.east in Ilminster, Somerset.

F.east is a vegetarian restaurant, also catering for gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan requirements and regardless of your preferences, always top-notch nosh.  There is usually a choice of 6-7 main course dishes, and on this visit I went for the fried cauliflower and broccoli with lentils, halloumi and salad.  Always beautifully presented and packed with a cornucopia of delicious flavours, I was pleased to find that the new kitchen didn’t detract from this at all.  I’m not a vegetarian, but I do enjoy meat-free days and when they’re as delicious as the dishes Claire dreams up – it’s an absolute treat.Feastmains - F.east in Ilminster, Somerset.

I was meeting and eating with two other people and our food arrived promptly and caused a brief lull in our meeting chat while we fell to, and demolished, our lunches.  The two people with me hadn’t been to F.east before and both pronounced it absolutely delicious – and that was before we had chosen our cakes from the laden shelf of treats at the counter.  I had a gluten-free marmalade cake which was a perfect sponge, with the orange bitter cutting through the sweetness of the icing and leaving me wondering if I should buy a piece to take home.

Feastdesserts - F.east in Ilminster, Somerset.

For me, great food places can sometimes be let down by the quality of the coffee they bring to you at the end of the meal – but my cappuccino was absolutely spot on and provided a perfect end to a very delicious and enjoyable meal.

You can find F.east on Tripadvisor https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g1077115-d1603818-Reviews-F_east-Ilminster_Somerset_England.html

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When somewhere calls itself a licensed feasting house, curiosity is already piqued and you’re wondering exactly what you’re going to get – but yet again, when we ate there last night, the Rusty Pig delivered in spades.

Based in Ottery St Mary, a lovely market town near Honiton – it would be very easy to miss the Rusty Pig if you were just wandering past – a shopfront window, a neon light, an upside down pig sign – it’s a bit like a secret club that only the lucky know about.  Established by Robin Rea, an Ottery born and bred local – it seems only right and proper that the Rusty Pig Ethos is all about “local – sourcing, flavours and people” and from humble beginnings in 2011, it is now rightly one of the sought after Devon foodie destinations.

therustypig4 - The Rusty Pig at Ottery St Mary near Honiton

We first went there a number of years ago and the breakfast we had is still at the top of our dine-out breakfast rankings. Robin has always sourced and cured his own meat and it was top-quality stuff.  We raise our own pigs, and often find the meat lacking when we dine out – but not in Robin’s case, the meat here has always been inspirational.

Rolling on a few years – the additions of Mark, the extremely talented chef and Agata, who runs front of house have taken this from a great place to eat to an amazing place to experience food – and for me there’s a subtle difference. Truly great food isn’t just about the food, it’s about the atmosphere of where you’re eating it, the service and the accompanying beverages – and when you get those four pillars working together – it goes off the scale.

therustypig3 - The Rusty Pig at Ottery St Mary near Honiton

So about last night…

We booked a table for 5 and the warm welcome started as we approached the door, it was thrown open and we were ushered in out of the cold night air and then shown to our table upstairs. It’s a quirky layout with tables spread over 2 floors and a brilliantly electic collection of art and kitchenalia providing an interesting backdrop to your meal.

Our table was a repurposed door, complete with escutcheons and candlelight – with vintage cutlery and serviettes aplenty in the heaped drawer on the tabletop.  Drinks orders were quickly taken – local juice, local bitter, local cider from Branscombe and my gin & tonic choice for the evening was Tarquins, a Cornish artisan gin – and arrived promptly.

therustypig6 - The Rusty Pig at Ottery St Mary near Honiton

So to the menu, one of the things we like about eating here is the innovative approach they have – “Pig & mix” which was a tapas-style journey through some excellent dishes was a particular favourite on a previous visit. Tonight we have “Surprise, surprise!” – 2 or 3 courses on offer and although Aggie offers some clues if we really want them – we decide to go with the flow and just see what arrives.

therustypig 1024x1024 - The Rusty Pig at Ottery St Mary near Honiton

The starter causes some consternation on arrival – parsnips – with 3 non-believers around the table, this might be a challenge! Presented beautifully in a cast-iron skillet – the parsnips have been coated in a pea flour & tonic water batter (and so are gluten and vegan friendly)  and served with a side pea pesto and a rich and unctuous tomato sauce. Luckily our boys (and that includes hubby) will try things and they were so glad they did – pronounced delicious by the whole table – this course was a big hit. 1-0 to Mark, he wins this round…

therustypig2 - The Rusty Pig at Ottery St Mary near Honiton

Now for the main, big chunky slices of excellently cooked pork leg nestling on a bed of crushed fried potatoes, buttered green kale and black lentils in a tasty sauce – lentils caused a bit of an eyebrow raise with hubby, but the meat tempted him in and yet again Mark proved that even ingredients you don’t particularly care for can be transformed into essential elements of your meal. This really was a superb plate of food, and little moments of treasure appeared whilst eating in the form of crisp crackling nuggets and flavour combinations that really work. 2-0 to Mark…

therustypig5 - The Rusty Pig at Ottery St Mary near Honiton

We were sufficiently full really, but the lure of a pudding surprise was too much and we all indulged and oh my goodness, that was such a good decision!  Marmalade brioche bread and butter pudding with caramel sauce and cream – served again in a skillet, could we fit this in and continue our run of clean plate courses. Why dear reader – it was too sublime not to finish, the slight bitter bite of the marmalade cut through the sweetness of the caramel with the two flavours really bringing out the best in each other. This was one of the best puddings I have ever had – I nearly asked for a slice to take home it was so good. 3-0 and total victory to Mark.- clean plates all round.

Throughout all of these courses, Aggie and her lovely assistant were professional, engaging and made it a really enjoyable experience – informative and funny, their careful and attentive ministrations of us made all the difference.  Excellent service is effortless and never that easy to achieve – here you can see that your experience is at the heart of everything they do.

So to the bill, two round of drinks for 5 and 3 delicious courses each came to an excellent value £30 per head – the innovation and customer service weren’t priced separately but are an invaluable and integral part of the Rusty Pig and are what keeps us coming back on a regular basis.  This is one of those places I am almost loath to write about in case too many people discover it – hats off to Robin and the team, it is pigging superb!

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We like to check out all the local eateries in a bid to ensure that we can recommend somewhere to suit you, your tastes and your budget if we are asked by our guests – and after a good meal at The Firehouse as part of a Christmas party we were invited to, we thought we would go along and try them out again.

With wooden beams and contemporary fireplaces, they describe themselves as “a village pub that has been restored with a modern twist yet full of traditional charm” – and that’s definitely the feeling you get when you walk in there. 

The Firehouse Somerset - http://thefirehousesomerset.co.uk/

Photo Credit: The Firehouse Somerset – http://thefirehousesomerset.co.uk/

From steak to calamari, there truly is something for everybody on the menu, including vegetarian options. Not only is there fine dining, you can also enjoy homemade, rustic pizzas which you can watch being made on the pizza oven as you walk in. As you can imagine, the smell of good food as you walk in is delightful and certainly makes you hungry.

Using the finest, local produce, as well as local cider, we can truly say you are in good hands when it comes to The Firehouse Somerset, and definitely worth a try, whether you want to experience the delicious food, or to simply enjoy the experience by sitting by the wood burner. The good news is that The Firehouse is only 25 minutes away from Dimpsey Glamping, so your next special meal isn’t that far away!

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The Firehouse Somerset – http://thefirehousesomerset.co.uk/

The Firehouse website: http://thefirehousesomerset.co.uk/

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Although Summer is starting to slowly drift away, it doesn’t mean the that relaxing holiday time is at an end. At Dimpsey Glamping, no matter what time of the year it is, there is always something to enjoy and ways to let your stresses slip away.

We are proud to be based in the Blackdown Hills, and so now that the nights are starting to draw in quicker, the end of Summer is the perfect time to relax under the stars, and with our stargazing maps this couldn’t be any easier.

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Photo Credit: Ben Carpenter Photography

But why not make a complete romantic evening out of it? Nothing beats cooking a homemade meal with fresh produce in our Outdoor Kitchen, and then unwinding in our Wood Fired Hot Tub

Dimpsey Glamping - Luxury Glamping Somerset UK - Photo Credit © Ben Carpenter Photography

Photo Credit: Ben Carpenter Photography

Whether you want a quick bite to eat or a full Sunday Roast and you enjoy watching the world go by, the Quantock Belle Dining Train is a must! Not only do you get to indulge in good food but also a lovely view as you travel from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead and back, plus a constant waiter service for tea or coffee.

Throughout the transition between Summer and Autumn, we definitely suggest walking or cycling around the Blackdown Hills. The Blackdown Hills AONB is beautiful at all times of the year, but there is nothing quite like walking or cycling through the leaves that have just started to fall, listening to the birds and wind rustling through the branches. To make a complete day out of it, why not take a picnic with you and relax with the outstanding natural beauty that the Blackdown Hills has to offer, we can even help you prepare your picnic.

blackdownhills - Lazy Hazy End of Summer Days at Dimpsey Glamping Somerset

Photo Credit: Visit Somerset

If the sun isn’t shining as much as you would like, don’t panic. Taunton, which is only 14 miles away from Dimpsey, is full of interesting things to do – including a Town Tour in the Museum of Somerset, ideal for those slightly duller days. The tour is filled with information about the history of Taunton, including a little meet up with the inspiration of Frankenstein!

Forde Abbey House & Gardens is just around the corner from us here at Dimpsey and is open until October.  Home to the stunning Mortlake tapestries, woven from the internationally famous Raphael cartoons, now housed in the V&A, the Abbey has a rich and varied history spanning 900 years. 

From food to relaxation and from adventure to days out, there is plenty you can do, even when the Summer sun leaves us eventually.

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A stay at Dimpsey Glamping isn’t just a place to lay your head at night. We want our guests to feel relaxed and pampered and that’s why we provide a full luxury retreat experience.

The Dimpsey Shepherd’s Hut not only has a woodfired hot tub (more about that next week!) but also a functional outdoor kitchen.

The kitchen was designed by the lovely people over at Blackdown Shepherd Huts who also made the Dimpsey Hut. They based the shape of the outdoor kitchen on the shape of the hut so it would blend in and to make blend in even more, they even used the materials including green oak, which will beautifully weather over time.

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Photo Credit: © Ben Carpenter Photography

The outdoor kitchen provides space, cover, a prepping area, sink, table and woodfired garden oven from The Garden Oven Company and we always have logs to burn on hand.

The most popular food that guests cook in our outdoor kitchen is pizza, chicken and potato dishes, but you can cook anything you like in the oven. We can even provide recipe baskets for our guests that include everything you need to make the perfect romantic meal under the stars. Not only that, but we can also make you freshly made pizza dough and provide steak, sausages, beef and lamb directly from our own farm. Around the hut you will find thyme, sage, chives, mint and rosemary growing, so you can help yourself to fresh organic herbs to add to your meals too.

2016 06 25 15.25.25 e1501845917389 1024x1024 - The Dimpsey Glamping Outdoor Kitchen With Woodfired Oven

We want every part of your stay to feel unique and special. A meal under the stars, perfect.

Dimpsey0417 BC 9S9A6388 1024x683 - The Dimpsey Glamping Outdoor Kitchen With Woodfired Oven

Photo Credit: © Ben Carpenter Photography

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Thank you very much to Juliet from The Garden Oven Company for this recipe and blog post 🙂

Hello to you all at Dimpsey and everyone reading this…

We were given this fantastic recipe from our lovely friend April Partridge. It is really simple to execute and the flavours are stunning. I just had to share!

Ingredients

  • A side of salmon
  • 70g sea salt flakes
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 30g loose tea. Choose a tea that you like the flavour of. We have used a strong Yorkshire tea and Lady and Earl grey which have lovely flavours.

Method

  1. Mix the salt, sugar and tea together and then lay on the salmon and then gently rub all over. Cover with cling film and then place in the fridge for around 5 hours. (Note: We made this once and left it overnight which was too long….the salt permeated into the fish too much and had a brining effect which made the salmon too salty. 5-6 hours seems to be the perfect amount of time.).
  2. Light your Garden Oven and let it reach a temperature of around 180°C.
  3. Whilst the oven is getting up to temp. take the salmon out of the fridge, run it under the tap, removing the salt,sugar and tea and then let it reach room temperature.
  4. Place on a foil lined baking tray and then place directly on the stones.
  5. Immediately close the bottom air vents on the firebox door, throw some loose tea into the fire and then cook for 12/13 minutes and then it is done.

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We love this served with seasonal asparagus and baby new potatoes in the summer or in winter with some green veg and mashed potato and instead of using loose tea , we have been known to cut open tea bags! 😉

Enjoy!

Juliet
The Garden Oven Company

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When we were down in Cornwall a couple of weeks ago, we visited the Hidden Hut at Porthcurnick beach – one of our favourite places to eat.  A walk along the cliff from Porthscatho brings you to the Hidden Hut just above the beach.  With a great lunch menu and their Feast nights (which sell out as soon as they’re released) this really is a foodie destination extraordinaire, sign up for their mailing list to hear about the feast nights.

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We all chose different things to eat and I had flatbreads, hummus and tzatziki – absolutely delicious!  We make a lot of hummus at home, so everyone tried some and we couldn’t quite identify what was in it – we asked the chef, but his hummus is a state secret so duly inspired I set about trying to replicate it when we got home.  Now the tastebuds of time may have altered my memory of it – but I thought I would share my attempt at it with you, it got full marks from my tasting panel!

Ingredients

  • 1 can of chickpeas – drained and rinsed
  • The juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil ( I add one tablespoon at first and then add more if needed)
  • 5 pieces of sun-blush tomato (you can find these on deli counters)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • A bit less than a tablespoon of chopped dill
  • Half a teaspoon of sugar
  • Salt and pepper (I add some at the beginning and then adjust to my taste at the end)

Method

Place all the ingredients in a tall sided jug or bowl and whizz with a stick blender until smooth (a food processor will do the same job).  If it looks too coarse for your taste add a little more lemon juice and olive oil.

Serve in a lovely bowl (this is my favourite of the moment – a lipped bowl from www.barringtonpottery.co.uk) and garnish with a couple of pieces of sun-dried tomato and herbs.  If I manage to keep the hungry boys away from it, this lasts for a few days in the fridge.

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Being situated in the Blackdown Hills we are amidst some of the most beautiful landscape our country has to offer. We love to walk and explore but, we also love to cycle.

One of our favourite routes is the Staple Fitzpaine Herepath which primarily follows a series of off road tracks through wooded areas including Staple Park Wood, Piddle Wood and Birkenhall wood. For cyclists, a mountain bike is advised as several of the off road sections are quite challenging. A good start point for the route is the car park at the ancient earthworks of Castle Neroche.

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And if you get peckish or thirsty along the way, there is a lovely pub called the Greyhound Inn tucked away village of Staple Fitzpaine. The inn has been extended over the years into a series of rambling, connecting rooms providing a rustic mix of flagstone floors, old timbers and natural stone floors, and walls. They offer a refreshing glass of Pimms on a hot summers day as well as the perfect crisp cold pint! They also have a restaurant serving locally inspired dishes.

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This stunning bridleway and cycle track is only a couple of miles away from us here at Dimpsey Glamping, so make sure you bring your bikes with you when you come to stay 🙂

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Here at Dimpsey, we never recommend anywhere we haven’t visited recently – what a great excuse to eat out regularly!!  Yesterday, I managed to combine checking somewhere out with a meeting over lunch – perfect.  We’ve eaten at The Anchor Inn at Seatown before, and the food has always been good but the recent refurbishment has moved it into my “Favourite Places” category.

 

The Anchor Inn is perfectly situated in Seatown, Bridport in Dorset and next to the Golden Cap which is a England’s only natural World Heritage Site which offers magnificent views at every compass point. On a clear day you can see across Lyme Bay to Dartmoor. This makes The Anchor in a great spot for a pre or post lunch walk, as you can see from the following photos which I took from my seat outside.
 
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There is lots of seating outside although inside the seating is a little more limited.  The lunch menu is varied and tempting, and the Specials board had lobster salad, salmon & scapes and about 8 other delicious dishes on it yesterday. The children’s menu was also very good.
 
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We chose the Seafood platter for two which was priced at £22.95 and went down very well.  The seafood was really fresh and the portions aren’t skimpy either! The mackerel pate was delicious and the smoked salmon was sublime.  Even though they were busy, the service was really friendly and quick.
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Definitely a great one to recommend and you can view their website here:  www.theanchorinnseatown.co.uk and even better, it’s only a 35 minute drive from The Dimpsey Glamping hut!

 

Dimpsey Local Knowledge
It’s at Seatown, not Seaton (which is also in the area) – don’t get confused!
It is down a narrow lane, so in High Season, be prepared to reverse at peak times.
You can’t book a table, so best to arrive before 1pm, especially if the weather is bad and inside seats are the only option.
Dog friendly pub.
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Somerset is a destination in its own right

For a long time, Somerset was the place you drove through to get to your Cornish holiday, but it is fast becoming one of the go-to destinations in its own right.  So what are the attractions of Somerset??

Location

The M5 and the A303 both run directly through Somerset, as do the main Paddington and Waterloo trainlines – giving great access to North And South Somerset respectively.  Dimpsey is based on the Blackdown Hills and is only a few minutes country lane drive from the A303, meaning that popping down for a weekend from London and the Home Counties is really easy – there’s nothing worse than driving around for hours trying to find your destination!

From our location in South Somerset, you can easily explore Somerset, but you can also be in Dorset and Devon within 10 minutes – so it really is a great base to explore the Southwest.

You can find out more about where we are here – Dimpsey, About the Location

Local places to visit

We’re based about half an hour from Lyme Regis and 40 minutes from Bridport, both of which are lovely seaside locations with bustling towns to explore.  Bridport boasts a renowned vintage quarter and has been the source and inspiration for many of the shepherd’s hut vintage pieces.

Beautiful house and gardens at Forde Abbey near Chard, Somerset
Beautiful house and gardens at Forde Abbey near Chard

Within 15 minutes drive, we have Barrington Court, Montacute House and Forde Abbey – all of which boast beautiful buildings, gardens and tearooms, with especially delicious cakes.

A little bit further afield, at Bruton (about an hour away) we have the Hauser & Wirth gallery, Stourhead House Gardens and Farm Shop and Longleat Safari Park – all fabulous days out.

If you’re looking to go out on foot or by bicycle, we are based down a network of country lanes, with lots of footpaths nearby – perfect for exploring.

You can find out more about places to visit here – Dimpsey – Local Places to Visit

Local places to eat

Somerset is fast becoming a real foodie destination and we have listed a number of our favourite destinations on the website here – Local places to eat / buy food – as well as local farm shops.  The hut has a gas hob and barbecue facilities, so you can buy meat and provisions straight from the farm and indulge your inner chef.

And to finish…

There are so many artisan product and food producers across the Blackdown Hills and South Somerset, that we come across new people nearly every day.  Many of them welcome visitors – so this provides another way to see inside Somerset – if you are interested we can recommend a whole host of people.

So there you go, Somerset has so much to offer as a holiday destination – so why not book up to come and explore and relax??

 

 

 

 

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